One of the mysteries of mental illness is how easily you forget what the experience of mental affliction is like. When I am flowing along well and my mental frame seems to be at an equilibrium then I can lose all appreciation of what the rigours of mental illness are like. But then when you get a flash of the experience back into your psyche or you once again step back into a state of mental turbulence/turmoil then you wonder how you could ever have forgotten it.
One tendency I have when I forget about my personal history of mental affliction is to think that I am self-sufficient rather than knowing that my sufficiency is in God. So easily I can fool myself into thinking that I can get through life on my own. Every reminder of my mental frailty should remind me that I need the strength of God all the time.
Sometimes this amnesia can be so deceiving that I lose all sympathy for those who are presently going through mental suffering. I can start to think: ‘Well I have come through it, so can they’. And the experience that should be a means by which I can sympathise with others and help them becomes a cause of self-satisfied disinterest. The situation as it properly should be is expressed by Paul to the Corinthians as follows:-
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
Lord may my experience of mental suffering be ever a means of me being led to rely on you and not myself. And may it be a means by which I can be of help to others.